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Handmade Soap Company cleaning up

THE Handmade Soap Company is something of an inspiring Irish success story. In 2009, Donagh Quigley's thatching business was struggling as a result of the recession. While on holiday in the Australian rainforest, and on the lookout for a new business idea, he discovered a thriving cottage industry making and selling handmade soaps.

Quigley seized upon the idea of creating a handmade soap company, unlike anything then available in Ireland. As a result he and Gemma McGowan set up The Handmade Soap Co, with the belief that even good skincare should be fun.

His quest to make "the perfect bar of soap" took him to the US to study soap production and then to the UK to train with soap guru Melinda Coss, whose expertise has proved invaluable to The Handmade Soap Co.

By December 2009, they had a product they were happy with. The first foray into sales was at the Christmas Craft fair in the Naul, Co Dublin, and the product on offer sold out by lunchtime.

By mixing cosmetic innovation and traditional formulations, The Handmade Soap Co offers unique handmade beauty treats. The company is based on old-fashioned values; using high-quality, natural ingredients, avoiding chemical nasties and wrapping everything up in striking, vintage packaging.

Recognising that today's consumer demands high quality and high performance, The Handmade Soap Co splurges on everything. Its ever-increasing range is made up of everyday staples for bath, skin and body, including soaps, body butters, face creams, hand creams and more, all sporting that fantastic packaging.

If you buy just one product: The Hand Cream (€11.95) has become a cult favourite. It's rich, but easily absorbed, formulation contains aloe vera gel blended with golden jojoba oil.

The fans: For such a new brand, The Handmade Soap Co is developing a devoted following, garnering glowing reviews from the likes of the RTE Guide and www.beaut.ie. The hand cream also bagged an award in this year's Irish Tatler Beauty Awards.

Stockists: Dublin stockists include The Kilkenny Shop, The Powerscourt Gallery, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, The National Museum of Ireland, Clerys, and The Crypt, Christchurch Cathedral. You can also shop online at www.thehandmadesoapcompany.ie